Portraits of a pop artist called Jacko

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Portraits of a pop artist called Jacko

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Son Dong-hyun’s paintings of Michael Jackson on traditional Korean paper called hanji. Provided by the organizer

Tabloid news-worthy, headline-catching acts aside, Michael Jackson and his music have been culturally prominent throughout the world for four decades.

Son Dong-hyun, who is known for his unique and unconventional art, has devoted an entire exhibition to the man he calls the “king of pop, rock and soul” in his latest exhibition, which is fittingly titled “Portrait of the King.”

The 28-year-old artist, who is trained in traditional Korean painting, is known for producing portrait-style paintings of recognizable pop culture icons such as Batman, Robocop and Shrek, among others.

He has also incorporated popular brand images into his work.

Son uses traditional painting methods on hanji, traditional Korean paper often made out of mulberry, to create various images of Michael Jackson ranging from his Jackson 5 days to more current images.

“The public loved Michael Jackson right from the start of his career because he has such a beautiful singing voice,” Son said.

The artist said Jackson was prepared to make changes in his life and career in order to improve himself as a musician and also to gain more popularity with the public.

“Looking back, if we take into account the fact that Jackson continued to change in order to keep up with and fulfill the public’s desires, one can make the point that Jackson’s appearance is a reflection of the public’s twisted desires,” Son said.

The paintings contain portrait-styled images of Jackson in various sitting positions.

Upon closer inspection, you can notice the change in the chair that Jackson is sitting on.

“The artist has chosen the year 1989 as the turning point in Jackson’s career,” said Han Seung-hee, a member of staff at Gallery 2.

“Portraits of his earlier years show Jackson sitting on Joseon Dynasty era chairs for kings in waiting,” Han added.

The post-1989 portraits have Jackson sitting on red thrones with gold trim used by Joseon-era kings.

The significance of the year 1989 derives from an Artist of the Decade awards ceremony.

The film star Elizabeth Taylor announced at the ceremony that the winner, Michael Jackson, was the “King of Pop, Rock and Soul.”

“Upon receiving the award and the title of King of Pop, Jackson’s stage manner and costumes showed elements of authority and power.

“The portraits also show a significant transformation in Jackson’s appearance after 1989,” Han said.

By Jason Kim Staff Reporter [jason@joongang.co.kr]


Gallery 2 in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul is hosting “Portrait of the King” thru Dec. 20.

For more information, call (02) 3448-2112 or visit www.gallery2.co.kr.

Gallery 2 is located near Cheongdam Station, line No. 7, exit 9.
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